Mother of seven, Asma*, lives in a rural village in the central highlands of Afghanistan. When Asma's husband sadly lost his eyesight several years ago and could not continue working, it fell on her to provide for their family. As the sole breadwinner, she did whatever she could to provide for her two daughters and five sons, but with limited employment opportunities in her remote village, Asma was heavily reliant on the income generated by the family's piece of rain-fed land.

Each year, she lent out this land to a sharecropper to cultivate crops, allowing her to feed her family with its produce. Whilst it did not provide her much, the family had just about managed to get by.

However, record-low levels of precipitation in Afghanistan over the past two years have had a drastic impact on the ability of many rural communities to grow food. With the effectiveness of the soil dependent on consistent rainfall, the impacts of the changing climate meant that Asma has had less and less to feed her family. This left them largely reliant on generosity from her wider family and community, many of whom were also facing similar challenges.

Due to the prolonged drought, a huge number of rural families across Afghanistan are in similar situations to Asma. 80% of families in the country rely on agriculture for at least part of their income, meaning millions are unable to grow enough food or earn a consistent income as a result of this climate change induced weather volatility. A staggering 80% of households in Afghanistan have experienced income reduction over the past 3 years, with 82% taking on debt.

I could not produce enough food on my rain-fed farm to sustain my family for a full six months. Therefore, I was frequently relying on assistance from friends, family, and neighbours or using other unsustainable coping mechanisms.

In December 2022 Afghanaid visited Asma's village, working with the Community Development Council to identify the specific needs of the village to help them rebuild and become more resilient. Asma immediately identified herself as requiring assistance, enrolling in a new project aimed at supporting local men and women to diversify their income sources to become more secure when crises hit.

In the new year, she received two goats, a dairy processing kit and two bags (100kg) of concentrated animal feed to keep her new livestock healthy. Additionally, she received valuable training, teaching her the best practices on how to milk and take care of her goats and how to prepare and use the animal feed to ensure they received adequate nutrients.

After 25 days, the goats gave birth to two babies. Now with four goats, Asma told us with excitement about how she is continuing to care for them, ensuring the newborn goats have ample time with their mother to grow healthy and strong. When they are old enough, she will also be able to utilise their produce, providing her and her family with valuable dairy products.

Emboldened by her newly acquired skills and livestock, Asma told us how she would like to also buy her own cattle in the coming year, with a plan to put her dairy processing knowledge to further use. She knows that producing things like yogurt and butter has multiple benefits: it means her family have enough food, but any surplus produce also generates a vital a source of income and increases the amount of affordable food in her community.

We need your help to reach more rural villages like Asma's

So far this year, we've directly distributed over 1,200 goats, dairy processing kits, concentrated animal feed and mineral blocks, and delivered training to women like Asma to help them make the most of these resources. We've also been working to build and restore irrigation infrastructure, such as water reservoirs, to help entire communities keep their land nourished and productive even when droughts occur. 

Help us support more rural families to build their resilience against the changing climate:

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*We have changed her name to protect her privacy.

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